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#1 2004-07-15 08:30:59

Cobra Commander
Member
From: The outskirts of Detroit.
Registered: 2002-04-09
Posts: 3,039

Re: Off-world Cuisine - To find strange new life, and eat it.

[color=000066:post_uid4]So, you're a colonist on some Neu-Terra orbiting a distant oh, K-type star, and you're presented with a plate of the local munchables, Something looks vaguely like lettuce, except for being black, and the steak is oozing a strangely green-tinted fluid.  :hm: Wonder how this stuff tastes...

I'm certainly no astrobiologist, but from what I've read it seems possible that animals could conceivably use something other than iron in their blood, copper or manganese have repeatedly come up as potentially workable. Plants could almost certainly use something other than chlorophyl. Sure, the scientific aspects of such alien life is fascinating, but from a settlement standpoint we'll eventually need to integrate the native life into our own food chain if at all possible. How might our Terran tastes intepret plants and animal matter with a significantly different chemistry, though not so much so as to be undigestable. Could get interesting, particularly if we have several distinct biospheres to work from.

Just throwing this out there, any thoughts?[/color:post_uid4]


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.

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#2 2004-07-15 10:53:40

Euler
Member
From: Corvallis, OR
Registered: 2003-02-06
Posts: 922

Re: Off-world Cuisine - To find strange new life, and eat it.

[color=#000000:post_uid0]It is certainly possible for aliens to use something other than iron in their blood.  In fact, using hemoglobin is not universal among terrestrial animals.  According to the Wikipedia entry for "blood":

Insects
In insects, the blood (more properly called hemolymph) is not involved in the transport of oxygen. (Openings called tracheae allow oxygen from the air to diffuse directly to the tissues). Insect blood moves nutrients to the tissues and removes waste products.

Small invertebrates
In some small invertebrates, oxygen is simply dissolved in the plasma. All other animals use respiratory proteins to increase the oxygen carrying capacity. Hemoglobin is the most efficient respiratory protein found in nature. Hemocyanin (blue) contains copper and is used in crustaceans. Sea squirts, among others marine life, use a vanadium chromagen (bright green, blue, or orange) for its respiratory pigment.

In many invertebrates, these oxygen-carrying proteins are freely soluble in the blood; in vertebrates they are contained in specialized red blood cells, allowing for a higher concentration of respiratory pigments without increasing viscosity.
[/quote:post_uid0][/color:post_uid0]

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#3 2004-07-15 14:51:00

BWhite
Member
From: Chicago, Illinois
Registered: 2004-06-16
Posts: 2,635

Re: Off-world Cuisine - To find strange new life, and eat it.

[color=#000000:post_uid0]So, you're a colonist on some Neu-Terra orbiting a distant oh, K-type star, and you're presented with a plate of the local munchables, Something looks vaguely like lettuce, except for being black, and the steak is oozing a strangely green-tinted fluid.  :hm: Wonder how this stuff tastes...

I'm certainly no astrobiologist, but from what I've read it seems possible that animals could conceivably use something other than iron in their blood, copper or manganese have repeatedly come up as potentially workable. Plants could almost certainly use something other than chlorophyl. Sure, the scientific aspects of such alien life is fascinating, but from a settlement standpoint we'll eventually need to integrate the native life into our own food chain if at all possible. How might our Terran tastes intepret plants and animal matter with a significantly different chemistry, though not so much so as to be undigestable. Could get interesting, particularly if we have several distinct biospheres to work from.

Just throwing this out there, any thoughts?[/color:post_uid0][/quote:post_uid0]
[color=#000000:post_uid0]Another question is whether any useful nutrition could be derived from it. After all, aren't some diet products based on chiral variations of common Terran protiens?

Twist a sugar molecule left instead of right and it passes through the human gut (sometimes quickly!) leaving no useful nutrition behind.

Alien biochemistry might make for some real interesting contacts. Not only can't we inter-breed maybe we can't even share a food supply.[/color:post_uid0]


Give someone a sufficient why and they can endure just about any how

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#4 2004-07-15 15:04:07

Cobra Commander
Member
From: The outskirts of Detroit.
Registered: 2002-04-09
Posts: 3,039

Re: Off-world Cuisine - To find strange new life, and eat it.

[color=000066:post_uid0]

Another question is whether any useful nutrition could be derived from it. After all, aren't some diet products based on chiral variations of common Terran protiens?
[/quote:post_uid0]

Yes, this is a concern. Hopefully we'll find that our arrangement is more common, I seem to recall some reason to support that but I'm drawing a blank at the moment...

We may at some point have to terraform (in a sense) a perfectly developed, living world just because the planet's life is based on mirrored molecules.  :hm:

The reason I bring it up is mainly tied into a writing project I've been working on, on and off for awhile now. Leads me to speculation on all sorts of matters, like colonizing planets with reverse-chiralty life, things of that sort. But assuming digestability I'd imagine that some buffalo-like animal with copper-based blood might taste a bit odd, though all sorts of interesting combinations could arise...

Would make for an interesting "Iron Chef" at any rate.  big_smile[/color:post_uid0]


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.

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#5 2004-07-22 04:35:14

Trebuchet
Member
From: Florida
Registered: 2004-04-26
Posts: 419

Re: Off-world Cuisine - To find strange new life, and eat it.

[color=#000000:post_uid0]Or the stuff could be grown as diet food. Imagine. Diet steak, no calories, no cholesterol! Served well-done because, well, would you eat a steak with a warm green center?[/color:post_uid0]

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